New dad Rahm forgets PGA pressure when holding son

·3 min read
Third-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain plays a practice shot from a bunker as he prepares for Thursday's start of the 103rd PGA Championship at Kiawah Island

New father Jon Rahm forgets the pressure of chasing his first major title at the PGA Championship on wind-swept Kiawah Island when he's holding six-week-old son Kepa in his arms.

The third-ranked Spaniard is among the favorites this week, but he is able to set aside practice needs and tournament tension when it is daddy time.

"It definitely changes. Once he was born, and even before, I could feel priorities just starting to shift from just regular 26-year-old man to now being a father," Rahm said Tuesday.

Rahm is still searching for his first victory since wife Kelley gave birth to their first child just days before last month's Masters, where he shared fifth. It was his sixth top-10 finish in a major, his best of those third in the 2019 US Open.

Rahm has something else to play for now and Kepa makes it easy for him to leave golf issues at the course.

"I'm here to do a job, I'm here to practice, I'm here to play, and then once I'm done with my whole day, I get home now it's dad time, which at the same time is wonderful," Rahm said.

"I get home and I forget about what's going on around me. I forget that we are at Kiawah Island, I forget that we are at a major, and I forget what the mission is. It's also really refreshing for the mind.

"The feeling of presence that I have when I'm with him is unique, so it can only be a good thing for me as a person and as a career."

Rahm finished in the top 10 at nine of 11 events before the start of May, but last won at last August's BMW Championship.

"I've still got to prioritize my career to provide for my family," Rahm said. "I think that has been the hardest part when I'm home, because I wake up early, he's usually waking up and I hold him in my arms, and the last thing I want to is leave to go practice."

And his nights haven't been sleepless ones yet.

"Sometimes I would wake up, sometimes I wouldn't, but it's all right for me so far," Rahm said.

What could produce sleepless nights for plenty of players are the tricky winds coming off the Atlantic Ocean.

"It's hard to know what to expect," Rahm said. "It's incredibly firm out there right now, so the downwind holes, the ball bounces on the greens.

"It's really nice to be familiar with the wind. So if you've been here in the past and have played both east and west winds, I think you have a certain advantage on strategy on some holes."

- 'Commit to the club' -

Those who played at Kiawah Island when the PGA was last on the coastal layout saw the course in August rather than the PGA's new May dates.

"It's a true ball striker's golf course. I enjoy the challenge," Rahm said. "It rewards good shots. If you don't hit a good one you're going to have to struggle for a par. Sometimes a bogey might be the best you can do."

And Rahm said a major concern will be trusting your shot decisions and club choices in the fickle winds.

"Some of the downwind holes the ball is going a very long ways," Rahm said.

"That's one of the challenges, being able to commit to the club that you have even though you might be hitting way longer clubs than you're used to on certain distances into the wind.

"When you're right on the ocean and you have a humid place, you have a lot more dense air. You've got to account for that. You've got to club it, you've got to adjust to it."

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